Just as a follow-up to this article, I haven’t been through the ENTIRE process, but have certainly been witness to what it all involves. Essentially after writing a paper, you send it off to a journal, who then chooses 3-4 reviewers from your field to review your paper. They rip it to shreds, find what data still needs to be done, and then come back with their red pen telling you what’s what. That’s called a peer-review. And you either rebutt or you add on to your research to answer their questions.
The reason peer-review is important is because while YOU may be convinced about the results and what the results mean, your job as a scientist is to demonstrate proof to others who are equally qualified to analyze your data. The peer reviewer is meant to make your data become above-reproach.
So it was interesting when I read this comment, in response to the article I’ve been reading through: http://www.plosone.org/annotation/listThread.action?root=53905
This team expressed quite a few concerns about the article, many of them which I have not vetted, but is worth considering because it largely considers the study negligent and over-exaggerating of its results. It’s all because of context. I’d advise you take some time to read through the answer, it’s pretty interesting and informative.
This also touches on why I think it’s interesting that this particular study, performed at a rather prestigious center, would send this sort of article to PLOS One as opposed to a more well known journal. Because if indeed this data is sound and if the technique is sound, then it has fairly significant findings that a journal would be happy to pick up.
The following is the peer review “About Us” for PLOS ONE: “Often a journal’s decision not to publish a paper reflects an editor’s opinion about what is likely to have substantial impact in a given field. These subjective judgments can delay the publication of work that later proves to be of major significance. PLOS ONE will rigorously peer-review your submissions and publish all papers that are judged to be technically sound. Judgments about the importance of any particular paper are then made after publication by the readership, who are the most qualified to determine what is of interest to them.”
I don’t know what kind of peer review this went through, but from the one review done by the commenter, it seems not enough.